Scoliosis

Last Updated: June 30, 2019

Definition - What does Scoliosis mean?

Scoliosis is a medical deformity characterized by a pronounced lateral bulge relative to the centerline of the body resulting in malformation of the curvature of the spine due to a congenital abnormality, underlying epidemiological issues, or traumatic circumstances. In many cases, scoliosis is idiopathic (unknown) in origin, with structural changes to the spine beginning in childhood with a prognosis of chronic back pain requiring specialized bracing in conjunction with physical therapy sessions.

WorkplaceTesting explains Scoliosis

Following a diagnosis of scoliosis, a physician monitors the growth, formation, and symmetry of the spine, documenting visible symptoms including hip, ribcage, and shoulder misalignments to determine the proper course of treatment. Early intervention is imperative where females, rapid growth at puberty, and hereditary traits are common risk factors that will dictate the progression of scoliosis in patients. During adolescence, two types of braces exist including thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO) and the Milwaukee brace, each serving the distinctive purpose of offsetting further curvature of the spine throughout the bone maturity process.

In clinical settings, the Cobb angle is the baseline criterion for measuring the curvature of the spine following the sloping pattern between the top and bottom vertebrate where a curvilinear deviation is evident, marking the severity of the angular tilt away from the midline axis of the body. A physician uses this methodology to ascertain the extent of the spinal curvature in which the gradation of degrees qualifies as normal (10-15 degrees), intermediate (20-40 degrees), or severe (40 or more) in terms of angulation, warranting the application of a back brace or corrective surgery. In the workplace, the Cobb angle serves as a metric for introducing ergonomic accommodations for individuals with scoliosis where customized equipment is specially tailored to fit the contour of the back, buffering the muscles and vertebral discs against ongoing back pain to maintain a comfortable posture.

Although scoliosis develops at a slow rate, individuals should consult a physician to receive a diagnosis in determining the proper therapeutic modalities to offset the likelihood of incurring an exaggerated curvature of the spine in conjunction with precluding etiological consequences of cardiorespiratory problems.

This definition was written in the context of Ergonomics
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